Couva and Sando business chambers want national security to be focus of budget reading

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Couva and Sando business chambers want national security to be focus of budget reading

With the Finance Ministry announcing that the 2024 Budget will be read on October 2nd, two major business chambers have stated that the focus must be on crime.

Greater San Fernando Chamber of Industry and Commerce president Kiran Singh said, “The major budget item must be national security.”

In a report today, he said the TTPS needs more resources to combat the crime scourge.
“Complaints have come to our offices of police having insufficient vehicles to patrol. Police mobility is a major component of crime fighting. Drone usage can aid in detection of criminals. These tools are comparatively much cheaper than helicopters, Singh noted..

He added, “More body cameras can assist officers and members of the public. A nationwide security surveillance camera system must be implemented. The business community is ready to network their cameras into the national grid to create a complete coverage of the nation. Of course, emphasis would be placed on crime hot spots.”

Singh recommended diversification to ensure economic survival, prioritisation of foreign exchange earners in agriculture and tourism, incentives for eco-tourism, cruise ships and yachts and greater emphasis on the La Brea Dry Dock Shipping facility.

Meanwhile, Mukesh Ramsingh, head of the Couva Chamber of Commerce, said more investment was needed in crime fighting and detection, noting that there was a reduction in allocations for National Security in the 2022/2023 budget when compared with the year before.

In a Newsday interview, he said: “When we look at allocations for ministries it gives an indication in what the government is pushing. When you see a drop in allocations it means they are not taking the situation as seriously as they should.”

In the 2022/2023 budget the Ministry of National Security was allocated $2.225 billion of an overall $57.685 billion budget. The year before, National Security got $2.202 billion from a $49.573 billion budget.

Ramsingh said more investment was needed in forensics and establishing harsher laws for criminal activities.

“One of the reasons people commit crime is because they believe they can get away with it.

“Our chamber, particularly, always has been advocating for changing legislation. We always hear that the CoP (Commissioner of Police) and police and officers of the security forces are operating within the law… but if the law doesn’t provide for them to take different measures then nothing is going to change.”

Ramsingh said using video as evidence, for example, while it was admissible in court, its use was also weighed down by red tape.

“People would prefer to go on Ian Alleyne or one of those shows rather than use it in court to get a conviction.”